Chickenpox was in vogue several years before and now in most of the countries around the world, people are vaccinated well in advance. It is basically an infectious disease caused by virus by name varicella that causes bumps or lesions on the skin. Chickenpox is contagious and can spread throughout the body and also to others. Taking a shot of chickenpox vaccine is the only way to prevent this disease and related symptoms.
Chicken Pox Symptoms :
Vaccination for chickenpox was invented in 1990 and since then cases have come down in numbers. Children are highly vulnerable for getting chickenpox if they have not been vaccinated.
Skin rash with blisters is the distinctive feature of this disease. The infection can easily spread to others from infected person and it remains in the body for 1-3 weeks in latent form. During this period, no symptoms are seen. Initial symptoms would appear after 7-21 days of getting infected.
- It starts with mild fever, headache and body pain.
- Skin rash with tiny pink bumps are found to occur in the face and neck region.
- Next day the bumps would spread gradually to hands and stomach and on your back. Gradually you can see pink bumps or lesions throughout the body.
- Following this, the tiny bumps would assume the shape of red fluid filled blisters causing pain and irritation.
- Pus like fluid will ooze out from the bumps causing discomfort. The same status would continue for 3-5 days depending on its intensity.
- Finally the bumps would turn crusty to shed the upper layer and it soon begins to heal in the next couple of days.
- Skin rash and bumps would be changing continuously in the body day by day. At one part of the body, the lesions would heal and scab over with crust. But on some other part of the skin fresh bumps with fluid would appear causing itchy feeling.
- It takes anywhere from 7-14 days for the bumps to get scabbed away completely.
- Skin rash can be categorized into 3 phases namely formation of tiny bumps, fluid filled red blisters and finally the scabbed lesions with crust.
- The infected child/adult remains contagious from the onset of infection into the body and until the period of fluid filled blisters remain in the body.
- In rare cases if the person’s immunity is low, rash and lesions are formed even in the eyes, throat and on the anus and genital region.
- It is very much necessary to protect other members in the home if any child develops chickenpox, and more precautions to be taken if there is an infant or elderly person in your home by getting them vaccinated.
- Varicella virus is responsible for causing chickenpox. Mode of transmission occurs through
- Direct contact with the infected person
- Through coughing or sneezing spreading millions of droplets
- Through saliva exchange
- A person with weak immunity and who have not been vaccinated for chickenpox is liable for infection.
Who Are At Risk ?
- School going children and children left at day care facility are at increased risk of getting infected.
- A child or adult who have not been vaccinated for Varicella virus are liable for chickenpox.
- Pregnant women and infant who has not been vaccinated for chickenpox are at increased risk.
- A person who takes immune suppressant drugs for long-term is at risk for many kind of infections including chickenpox.
Generally chickenpox would not cause any complication and the symptoms are mild. However in people with weakened immunity and those diagnosed with bacterial infection are at high risk of developing complications. People having chronic pneumonia and Reye’s syndrome can develop some complication. When a pregnant woman gets infected with chickenpox virus, it can cause range of complications including low birth weight and congenital birth defects and abnormalities in the limb for the growing fetus.
Similarly a person having chickenpox is vulnerable for another severe infectious disease called shingles. Shingles is caused by the same virus (Varicella) that causes chickenpox which remains hidden in the nerve cells of the infected person several years. When conditions are favorable (weakened immunity) it can cause shingles.
Any medical care personnel can detect chickenpox by mere physical examination of the symptoms. He/she would look for fluid filled blisters on the body which eventually spreads to other body parts. For confirming his diagnosis, he may order for blood test to check the presence of virus.
No treatment is required for mild form of chickenpox. Antihistamines can be taken to get quick relief from symptoms of itching. If the symptoms are severe and if the affected child/adult has some other health issues, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs like Zovirax or similar ones. The infected person can get relief within a day of taking these drugs. Skin rash would get reduced and disappear gradually in couple of days.
The infected person should take complete rest and be isolated from the rest of the family. Plenty of fluids/juices can be given to prevent dehydration. Parents should not send their child to school/day care since this would spread the infection to other children. If the child is infected with chickenpox take all precautions to keep him/her relaxed. Trim his/her fingernails to prevent scratching. Oatmeal bath can be given to relieve symptoms of itching. Don’t give aspirin to the child or adult infected with chickenpox since it may lead to complications like Reye’s syndrome.
Chicken Pox Prevention :
- The only way to prevent chickenpox infection is to get vaccinated. According to the reports given by the CDC about 98% of the people do not get chickenpox in their lifetime, provided they have taken the recommended shots of vaccine.
- Even if you are getting this infection after vaccination, the symptoms would be mild and go away within few days.
- First vaccine dose for Varicella virus is given between 12-15 months of infants, followed by second dose between 4 to 6 years. Normally chickenpox vaccine is given in combination with several other vaccines like measles and mumps.
- If you are unsure whether you have had vaccination for chickenpox, you can get it tested in the lab.